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The Hobbit: Were Peter Jackson's Stone Giants Part of Tolkien's Novel?

CBR logo CBR 6/28/2022 Ben Hardwick
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With a single book being stretched into three movies, Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit embellishes many details of the original J. R. R. Tolkien novel. One such embellishment is the battle between stone-giants during a thunderstorm, as the Company of Thorin Oakenshield attempt to avoid their destruction. However, this scene houses a large point of contention within the fan base, as many are unsure if the stone-giants are lore accurate or not.

As Bilbo and the Dwarves pass through the Misty Mountains during The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, they fight against a thunderstorm that almost blows them off their feet. Amidst the downpour, a figure made of solid stone rises into view, standing thousands of feet tall. It hurls chunks of the mountains at another giant, with the Dwarf Balin yelling, "This is no thunderstorm. It's a thunder battle!" And for something that's only present for a brief scene, it's one of the grandest fights in any Middle-earth movie.

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When it comes to how accurate the scene is to Tolkien's novel, this is where things get more complicated. As the company travels during the fourth chapter, it mentions Bilbo waking one night, reading, "There they were sheltering under a hanging rock for the night, and he lay beneath a blanket and shook from head to toe. When he peeped out in the lightning-flashed, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where they smashed among the trees below, or splintered into little bits with a bang."

Unfortunately, this is all that's ever mentioned of the stone-giants, and at face value, it seems like Bilbo witnesses them playing and moves on. While it's obvious that Peter Jackson emphasized the scene for dramatic effect, it's debated if the giants even exist at all. Throughout all of Tolkien's Middle-earth stories and lore, giants are never mentioned again, especially ones made of stone. And so, many fans theorize that the stone-giants are actually something completely different.

While massive creatures like dragons and Balrogs do exist, the typical fantasy giant is nowhere to be seen in Tolkien's writings. The closest species to a giant are the Ents, as they're humanoid beings who are tall and are just as sentient as any man. But as for a type of Ent that's made of stone, no details have ever been given. And if they were to exist, they certainly wouldn't have been as large as Jackson's adaptions.

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But if the stone-giants don't exist, it raises questions as to what Bilbo really saw. Some theorize that the description is a metaphor for lightning striking the mountains and large chunks of rock falling to the ground. Others believe it's part of Bilbo's imagination in the rain, or that he was actually watching some trolls in the distance. But in the end, they're mentioned so vaguely that it's difficult to find a definitive answer.

When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, it originally wasn't planned to be part of his Middle-earth mythos. But when writing The Lord of the Rings, he went back and adapted the novel to fit better into Middle-earth by changing a few lines here and there. It's possible that the stone-giants were an oversight he didn't think about, or it's entirely possible that stone-giants do exist, and they're just an incredibly rare species in the vast world he created.


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